3rd Singapore Short Film Awards Preview: Review of Edmund (2011) & Mandy’s 8 Theories of Sleep (2010)

You must have seen one of these people walking in your midst. Those who, well, what do we call them – weirdos? In this confusing day and age, it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine what constitutes normal behaviour. What about filmmakers who tell stories about people who do not fit in snugly into the crowd? Are they, err, normal? Through Viknesh Kobinathan’s Edmund (2011) and Wendy Chee’s Mandy’s 8 Theories of Sleep (2010), we get an insight on what goes on in the minds of two, hmm, weird individuals, and are left to interpret whether the filmmakers are as odd as their subjects.  

Kobinathan, a self-proclaimed full time bum, has chosen a lanky and rather likeable lad as the protagonist of his film. Edmund (we can’t decipher his nationality though) likes walking around with his Longman dictionary, and everything in his life can be described word for word, thanks to the definitions in his non-living companion. The six-minute film shows how this peculiar behaviour can actually lead to the discovery of true love.
It is evident from the production values of this film that Kobinathan is a student filmmaker. While it doesn’t help that this reviewer was from the same school he studies at (all the locations in the film are familiar spots this reviewer used to shoot his productions), the film could have benefited from stronger performances from the cast members. The protagonist’s delivery of an awkward character is acceptably average, but the same can’t be said about the supporting roles.
There is a potentially affecting story in here. Who isn’t a fan of an underdog overcoming all odds and living happily ever after with his true love? Kobinathan has managed to paint a personality which is quirkily adorable [Marc Webb’s romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer comes to mind], and with better production values (read: higher budget), we are sure his next piece of work will be one worth looking forward to.
And if there is one thing that will never go wrong in film production, it is the use of cute kids. Chee knows this rule well, and has chosen two very endearing children to star in her film. As the title suggests, the protagonist Mandy is a girl who enjoys sleeping. She has the task of convincing her friend (a boy, of course) that sleeping is the best thing that can happen to him.
The 18-minute production is a delight to watch, not just because of the natural performances of its lead characters, but also its charming art direction. The story allows the filmmaker to stretch her imagination and conjure sets which will leave its viewers smiling. The dream-like sequences will remind you of the wondrous adventures you had (in your mind) when you were a kid. Watch out for a hilarious scene where the kids encounter Z monsters.
Chee’s film is proof that with the right amount of creativity and storytelling skills, anything is possible. Trust us, even the end credits are a joy to watch.

The 3rd Singapore Short Film Awards (SSFA) takes place at The Substation Theatre from 5-11 March. For more information, click here

Watch this space for other short films reviews from the SSFA!

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